Read Chapter IX. of Wyandotte, free online book, by James Fenimore Cooper, on

  Though old in cunning, as in years,
  He is so small, that like a child
  In face and form, the god appears,
  And sportive like a boy, and wild;
  Lightly he moves from place to place,
  In none at rest, in none content;
  Delighted some new toy to chase ­
  On childish purpose ever bent. 
  Beware! to childhood’s spirits gay
  Is added more than childhood’s power;
  And you perchance may rue the hour
  That saw you join his seeming play.


The intention of the major to quit the Knoll that day, was announced to the family at breakfast, on the following morning.  His mother and Beulah heard this intelligence, with a natural and affectionate concern, that they had no scruples in avowing; but Maud seemed to have so schooled her feelings, that the grief she really felt was under a prudent control.  To her, it appeared as if her secret were constantly on the point of exposure, and she believed that would cause her instant death.  To survive its shame was impossible in her eyes, and all the energies of her nature were aroused, with the determination of burying her weakness in her own bosom.  She had been so near revealing it to Beulah, that even now she trembled as she thought of the precipice over which she had been impending, strengthening her resolution by the recollection of the danger she had run.

As a matter of necessary caution, the intended movements of the young man were kept a profound secret from all in the settlement.  Nick had disappeared in the course of the night, carrying with him the major’s pack, having repaired to a designated point on the stream, where he was to be joined by his fellow-traveller at an hour named.  There were several forest-paths which led to the larger settlements.  That usually travelled was in the direction of old Fort Stanwix, first proceeding north, and then taking a south-eastern direction, along the shores of the Mohawk.  This was the route by which the major had come.  Another struck the Otsego, and joined the Mohawk at the point more than once mentioned in our opening chapters.  As these were the two ordinary paths ­if paths they could be called, where few or no traces of footsteps were visible ­it was more than probable any plan to arrest the traveller would be laid in reference to their courses.  The major had consequently resolved to avoid them both, and to strike boldly into the mountains, until he should reach the Susquehanna, cross that stream on its flood wood, and finding one of its tributaries that flowed in from the eastward, by following its banks to the high land, which divides the waters of the Mohawk from this latter river, place himself on a route that would obliquely traverse the water-courses, which, in this quarter of the country, have all a general north or south direction.  Avoiding Schenectady and Albany, he might incline towards the old establishments of the descendants of the emigrants from the Palatinate, on the Schoharie, and reach the Hudson at a point deemed safe for his purposes, through some of the passes of the mountains in their vicinity.  He was to travel in the character of a land-owner who had been visiting his patent, and his father supplied him with a map and an old field-book, which would serve to corroborate his assumed character, in the event of suspicion, or arrest.  Not much danger was apprehended, however, the quarrel being yet too recent to admit of the organization and distrust that subsequently produced so much vigilance and activity.

“You will contrive to let us hear of your safe arrival in Boston, Bob,” observed the father, as he sat stirring his tea, in a thoughtful way ­“I hope to God the matter will go no farther, and that our apprehensions, after all, have given this dark appearance to what has already happened.”

“Ah, my dear father; you little know the state of the country, through which I have so lately travelled!” answered the major, shaking his head.  “An alarm of fire, in an American town, would scarce create more movement, and not so much excitement.  The colonies are alive, particularly those of New England, and a civil war is inevitable; though I trust the power of England will render it short.”

“Then, Robert, do not trust yourself among the people of New England” ­ cried the anxious mother.  “Go rather to New York, where we have so many friends, and so much influence.  It will be far easier to reach New York than to reach Boston.”

“That may be true, mother, but it will scarcely be as creditable.  My regiment is in Boston, and its enemies are before Boston; an old soldier like captain Willoughby will tell you that the major is a very necessary officer to a corps.  No ­no ­my best course is to fall into the current of adventurers who are pushing towards Boston, and appear like one of their number, until I can get an opportunity of stealing away from them, and join my own people.”

“Have a care, Bob, that you do not commit a military crime.  Perhaps these provincial officers may take it into their heads to treat you as a spy, should you fall into their hands!”

“Little fear of that, sir; at present it is a sort of colonial scramble for what they fancy liberty.  That they will fight, in their zeal, I know; for I have seen it; but matters have not at all gone as far as you appear to apprehend.  I question if they would even stop Gage, himself, from going through their camp, were he outside, and did he express a desire to return.”

“And yet you tell me, arms and ammunition are seized all over the land; that several old half-pay officers of the king have been arrested, and put under a sort of parole!”

“Such things were talked of, certainly, though I question if they have yet been done.  Luckily for yourself, under your present opinions at least, you are not on half-pay, even.”

“It is fortunate, Bob, though you mention it with a smile.  With my present feelings, I should indeed be sorry to be on half-pay, or quarter-pay, were there such a thing.  I now feel myself my-own master, at liberty to follow the dictates of my conscience, and the suggestions of my judgment.”

“Well, sir, you are a little fortunate, it must be acknowledged.  I cannot see how any man can be at liberty to throw off the allegiance he owes his natural sovereign.  What think you, Maud?”

This was said half in bitterness, half in jest, though the appeal at its close was uttered in a serious manner, and a little anxiously.  Maud hesitated, as if to muster her thoughts, ere she replied.

“My feelings are against rebellion,” she said, at length; “though I fear my reason tells me there is no such thing as a natural sovereign.  If the parliament had not given us the present family, a century since, by what rule of nature would it be our princes, Bob?”

“Ah! these are some of the flights of your rich imagination, my dear ­ Maud; it is parliament that has made them our princes, and parliament, at least, is our legal, constitutional master.”

“That is just the point in dispute.  Parliament may be the rightful governors of England, but are they the rightful governors of America?”

“Enough,” said the captain, rising from table ­“We will not discuss such a question, just as we are about to separate.  Go, my son; a duty that is to be performed, cannot be done too soon.  Your fowling-piece and ammunition are ready for you, and I shall take care to circulate the report that you have gone to pass an hour in the woods, in search of pigeons.  God bless you, Bob; however we may differ in this matter ­ you are my son ­my only son ­my dear and well-beloved boy ­God for ever bless you!”

A profound stillness succeeded this burst of nature, and then the young man took his leave of his mother and the girls.  Mrs. Willoughby kissed her child.  She did not even weep, until she was in her room; then, indeed, she went to her knees, her tears, and her prayers.  Beulah, all heart and truth as she was, wept freely on her brother’s neck; but Maud, though pale and trembling, received his kiss without returning it; though she could not help saying with a meaning that the young man had in his mind all that day, ay, and for many succeeding days ­“be careful of yourself, and run into no unnecessary dangers; God bless you, dear, dear Bob.”

Maud alone followed the movements of the gentlemen with her eyes.  The peculiar construction of the Hut prevented external view from the south windows; but there was a loop in a small painting-room of the garret that was especially under her charge.  Thither, then, she flew, to ease her nearly bursting heart with tears, and to watch the retiring footsteps of Robert.  She saw him, accompanied by his father and the chaplain, stroll leisurely down the lawn, conversing and affecting an indifferent manner, with a wish to conceal his intent to depart.  The glass of the loop was open, to admit the air, and Maud strained her sense of hearing, in the desire to catch, if possible, another tone of his voice.  In this she was unsuccessful; though he stopped and gazed back at the Hut, as if to take a parting look.  Her father and Mr. Woods did not turn, and Maud thrust her hand through the opening and waved her handkerchief.  “He will think it Beulah or I,” she thought, “and it may prove a consolation to him to know how much we love him.”  The major saw the signal, and returned it.  His father unexpectedly turned, and caught a glimpse of the retiring hand, as it was disappearing within the loop.  “That is our precious Maud,” he said, without other thought than of her sisterly affection.  “It is her painting-room; Beulah’s is on the other side of the gateway; but the window does not seem to be open.”

The major started, kissed his hand fervently, five or six times, and then he walked on.  As if to change the conversation, he said hastily, and with a little want of connection with what had just passed ­

“Yes, sir, that gate, sure enough ­have it hung, at once, I do entreat of you.  I shall not be easy until I hear that both the gates are hung ­ that in the stockade, and that in the house, itself.”

“It was my intention to commence to-day,” returned the father, “but your departure has prevented it.  I will wait a day or two, to let your mother and sisters tranquillize their minds a little, before we besiege them with the noise and clamour of the workmen.”

“Better besiege them with that, my dear sir, than leave them exposed to an Indian, or even a rebel attack.”

The major then went on to give some of his more modern military notions, touching the art of defence.  As one of the old school, he believed his father a miracle of skill; but what young man, who had enjoyed the advantages of ten or fifteen years of the most recent training in any branch of knowledge, ever believed the educations of those who went before him beyond the attacks of criticism.  The captain listened patiently, and with an old man’s tolerance for inexperience, glad to have any diversion to unhappy thoughts.

All this time Maud watched their movements from the loop, with eyes streaming with tears.  She saw Robert pause, and look back, again and again; and, once more, she thrust out the handkerchief.  It was plain, however, he did not see it; for he turned and proceeded, without any answering signal.

“He never can know whether it was Beulah or I,” thought Maud; “yet, he may fancy we are both here.”

On the rocks, that overhung the mills, the gentlemen paused, and conversed for quite a quarter of an hour.  The distance prevented Maud from discerning their countenances; but she could perceive the thoughtful, and as she fancied melancholy, attitude of the major, as, leaning on his fowling-piece, his lace was turned towards the Knoll, and his eyes were really riveted on the loop.  At the end of the time mentioned, the young soldier shook hands hastily and covertly with his companions, hurried towards the path, and descended out of sight, following the course of the stream.  Maud saw him no more, though her father and Mr. Woods stood on the rocks quite half an hour longer, catching occasional glimpses of his form, as it came out of the shadows of the forest, into the open space of the little river; and, indeed, until the major was within a short distance of the spot where he was to meet the Indian.  Then they heard the reports of both barrels of his fowling-piece, fired in quick succession, the signals that he had joined his guide.  This welcome news received, the two gentlemen returned slowly towards the house.

Such was the commencement of a day, which, while it brought forth nothing alarming to the family of the Hutted Knoll, was still pregnant with important consequences.  Major Willoughby disappeared from the sight of his father about ten in the morning; and before twelve, the settlement was alive with the rumours of a fresh arrival.  Joel knew not whether to rejoice or to despair, as he saw a party of eight or ten armed men rising above the rock, and holding their course across the flats towards the house.  He entertained no doubt of its being a party sent by the provincial authorities to arrest the captain, and he foresaw the probability of another’s being put into the lucrative station of receiver of the estate, during the struggle which was in perspective.  It is surprising how many, and sometimes how pure patriots are produced by just such hopes as those of Joel’s.  At this day, there is scarce an instance of a confiscated estate, during the American revolution, connected with which racy traditions are not to be found, that tell of treachery very similar to this contemplated by the overseer in some instances of treachery effected by means of kinsmen and false friends.

Joel had actually got on his Sunday coat, and was making his way towards the Knoll, in order to be present, at least, at the anticipated scene, when, to his amazement, and somewhat to his disappointment, he saw the captain and chaplain moving down the lawn, in a manner to show that these unexpected arrivals brought not unwelcome guests.  This caused him to pause; and when he perceived that the only two among the strangers who had the air of gentlemen, were met with cordial shakes of the hand, he turned back towards his own tenement, a half-dissatisfied, and yet half contented man.

The visit which the captain had come out to receive, instead of producing any uneasiness in his family, was, in truth, highly agreeable, and very opportune.  It was Evert Beekman, with an old friend, attended by a party of chain-bearers, hunters, &c., on his way from the “Patent” he owned in the neighbourhood ­that is to say, within fifty miles ­and halting at the Hutted Knoll, under the courteous pretence of paying his respects to the family, but, in reality, to bring the suit he had now been making to Beulah for quite a twelvemonth, to a successful termination.

The attachment between Evert Beekman and Beulah Willoughby was of a character so simple, so sincere, and so natural, as scarce to furnish materials for a brief episode.  The young man had not made his addresses without leave obtained from the parents; he had been acceptable to the daughter from the commencement of their acquaintance; and she had only asked time to reflect, ere she gave her answer, when he proposed, a day or two before the family left New York.

To own the truth, Beulah was a little surprised that her suitor had delayed his appearance till near the close of May, when she had expected to see him at the beginning of the month.  A letter, however, was out of the question, since there was no mode of transmitting it, unless the messenger were sent expressly; and the young man had now come in person, to make his own apologies.

Beulah received Evert Beekman naturally, and without the least exaggeration of manner, though a quiet happiness beamed in her handsome face, that said as much as lover could reasonably desire.  Her parents welcomed him cordially, and the suitor must have been dull indeed, not to anticipate all he hoped.  Nor was it long before every doubt was removed.  The truthful, conscientious Beulah, had well consulted her heart; and, while she blushed at her own temerity, she owned her attachment to her admirer.  The very day of his arrival they became formally betrothed.  As our tale, however, has but a secondary connection with this little episode, we shall not dwell on it more than is necessary to the principal object.  It was a busy morning, altogether; and, though there were many tears, there were also many smiles.  By the time it was usual, at that bland season, for the family to assemble on the lawn, everything, even to the day, was settled between Beulah and her lover, and there was a little leisure to think of other things.  It was while the younger Pliny and one of the Smashes were preparing the tea, that the following conversation was held, being introduced by Mr. Woods, in the way of digressing from feelings in which he was not quite as much interested as some of the rest of the party.

“Do you bring us anything new from Boston?” demanded the chaplain.  “I have been dying to ask the question these two hours ­ever since dinner, in fact; but, somehow, Mr. Beekman, I have not been able to edge in an inquiry.”

This was said good-naturedly, but quite innocently; eliciting smiles, blushes, and meaning glances in return.  Evert Beekman, however, looked grave before he made his reply.

“To own the truth, Mr. Woods,” he said, “things are getting to be very serious.  Boston is surrounded by thousands of our people; and we hope, not only to keep the king’s forces in the Peninsula, but, in the end, to drive them out of the colony.”

“This is a bold measure, Mr. Beekman! ­a very bold step to take against Cæsar!”

“Woods preached about the rights of Cæsar, no later than yesterday, you ought to know, Beekman,” put in the laughing captain; “and I am afraid he will be publicly praying for the success of the British arms, before long.”

“I did pray for the Royal Family,” said the chaplain, with spirit, “and hope I shall ever continue to do so.”

“My dear fellow, I do not object to that.  Pray for all conditions of men, enemies and friends alike; and, particularly, pray for our princes; but pray also to turn the hearts of their advisers.”

Beekman seemed uneasy.  He belonged to a decidedly whig family, and was himself, at the very moment, spoken of as the colonel of one of the regiments about to be raised in the colony of New York.  He held that rank in the militia, as it was; and no one doubted his disposition to resist the British forces, at the proper moment.  He had even stolen away from what he conceived to be very imperative duties, to secure the woman of his heart before he went into the field.  His answer, in accordance, partook essentially of the bias of his mind.

“I do not know, sir, that it is quite wise to pray so very willingly for the Royal Family,” he said.  “We may wish them worldly happiness, and spiritual consolation, as part of the human race; but political and specific prayers, in times like these, are to be used with caution.  Men attach more than the common religious notion, just now, to prayers for the king, which some interpret into direct petitions against the United Colonies.”

“Well,” rejoined the captain, “I cannot agree to this, myself.  If there were a prayer to confound parliament and its counsels, I should be very apt to join in it cordially; but I am not yet ready to throw aside king, queen, princes and princesses, all in a lump, on account of a few taxes, and a tittle tea.”

“I am sorry to hear this from you, sir,” answered Evert.  “When your opinions were canvassed lately at Albany, I gave a sort of pledge that you were certainly more with us than against us.”

“Well then, I think, Beekman, you drew me in my true outlines.  In the main, I think the colonies right, though I am still willing to pray for the king.”

“I am one of those, captain Willoughby, who look forward to the most serious times.  The feeling throughout the colonies is tremendous, and the disposition on the part of the royal officers is to meet the crisis with force.”

“You have a brother a captain of foot in one of the regiments of the crown, colonel Beekman ­what are his views in this serious state of affairs?”

“He has already thrown up his commission ­refusing even to sell out, a privilege that was afforded him.  His name is now before congress for a majority in one of the new regiments that are to be raised.”

The captain looked grave; Mrs. Willoughby anxious; Beulah interested; and Maud thoughtful.

“This has a serious aspect, truly,” observed the first.  “When men abandon all their early hopes, to assume new duties, there must be a deep and engrossing cause.  I had not thought it like to come to this!”

“We have had hopes major Willoughby might do the same; I know that a regiment is at his disposal, if he be disposed to join us.  No one would be more gladly received.  We are to have Gates, Montgomery, Lee, and many other old officers, from regular corps, on our side.”

“Will colonel Lee be put at the head of the American forces?”

“I think not, sir.  He has a high reputation, and a good deal of experience, but he is a humourist; and what is something, though you will pardon it, he is not an American born.”

“It is quite right to consult such considerations, Beekman; were I in congress, they would influence me, Englishman as I am, and in many things must always remain.”

“I am glad to hear you say that, Willoughby,” exclaimed the chaplain ­” right down rejoiced to hear you say so!  A man is bound to stand by his birth-place, through thick and thin.”

“How do you, then, reconcile your opinions, in this matter, to your birth-place, Woods?” asked the laughing captain.

To own the truth, the chaplain was a little confused.  He had entered into the controversy with so much zeal, of late, as to have imbibed the feelings of a thorough partisan; and, as is usual, with such philosophers, was beginning to overlook everything that made against his opinions, and to exaggerate everything that sustained them.

“How?” ­he cried, with zeal, if not with consistency ­“Why, well enough.  I am an Englishman too, in the general view of the case, though born in Massachusetts.  Of English descent, and an English subject.”

“Umph! ­Then Beekman, here, who is of Dutch descent, is not bound by the same principles as we are ourselves?”

“Not by the same feelings possibly; but, surely, by the same principles.  Colonel Beekman is an Englishman by construction, and you are by birth.  Yes, I’m what may be called a constructive Englishman.”

Even Mrs. Willoughby and Beulah laughed at this, though not a smile had crossed Maud’s face, since her eye had lost Robert Willoughby from view.  The captain’s ideas seemed to take a new direction, and he was silent some little time before he spoke.

“Under the circumstances in which we are now placed, as respects each other, Mr. Beekman,” he said, “it is proper that there should be no concealments on grave points.  Had you arrived an hour or two earlier, you would have met a face well known to you, in that of my son, major Willoughby.”

“Major Willoughby, my dear sir!” exclaimed Beekman, with a start of unpleasant surprise; “I had supposed him with the royal army, in Boston.  You say he has left the Knoll ­I sincerely hope not for Albany.”

“No ­I wished him to go in that direction, at first, and to see you, in particular; but his representations of the state of the country induced me to change my mind; he travels by a private way, avoiding all the towns of note, or size.”

“In that he has done well, sir.  Near to me as a brother of Beulah’s must always seem, I should be sorry to see Bob, just at this moment.  If there be no hope of getting him to join us, the farther we are separated the better.”

This was said gravely, and it caused all who heard it fully to appreciate the serious character of a quarrel that threatened to arm brother against brother.  As if by common consent, the discourse changed, all appearing anxious, at a moment otherwise so happy, to obliterate impressions so unpleasant from their thoughts.

The captain, his wife, Beulah and the colonel, had several long and private communications in the course of the evening.  Maud was not sorry to be left to herself, and the chaplain devoted his time to the entertainment of the friend of Beekman, who was in truth a surveyor, brought along partly to preserve appearances, and partly for service.  The chain-bearers, hunters, &c., had been distributed in the different cabins of the settlement, immediately on the arrival of the party.

That night, when the sisters retired, Maud perceived that Beulah had something to communicate, out of the common way.  Still, she did not know whether it would be proper for her to make any inquiries, and things were permitted to take their natural course.  At length Beulah, in her gentle way, remarked ­“It is a fearful thing, Maud, for a woman to take upon herself the new duties, obligations and ties of a wife.”

“She should not do it, Beulah, unless she feels a love for the man of her choice, that will sustain her in them.  You, who have real parents living, ought to feel this fully, as I doubt not you do.”

Real parents!  Maud, you frighten me!  Are not my parents yours? ­Is not all our love common?”

“I am ashamed of myself, Beulah.  Dearer and better parents than mine, no girl ever had.  I am ashamed of my words, and beg you will forget them.”

“That I shall be very ready to do.  It was a great consolation to think that should I be compelled to quit home, as compelled I must be in the end, I should leave with my father and mother a child as dutiful, and one that loves them as sincerely as yourself, Maud.”

“You have thought right, Beulah.  I do love them to my heart’s core!  Then you are right in another sense; for I shall never marry.  My mind is made up to that

“Well, dear, many are happy that never marry ­many women are happier than those that do.  Evert has a kind, manly, affectionate heart, and I know will do all he can to prevent my regretting home; but we can never have more than one mother, Maud!”

Maud did not answer, though she looked surprised that Beulah should say this to her.

“Evert has reasoned and talked so much to my father and mother,” continued the fiancee, blushing, “that they have thought we had better be married at once.  Do you know, Maud, that it has been settled this evening, that the ceremony is to take place to-morrow!”

“This is sudden, indeed, Beulah!  Why have they determined on so unexpected a thing?”

“It is all owing to the state of the country.  I know not how he has done it ­but Evert has persuaded my father, that the sooner I am his wife, the more secure we shall all be, here at the Knoll.”

“I hope you love Evert Beekman, dearest, dearest Beulah?”

“What a question, Maud!  Do you suppose I could stand up before a minister of God, and plight my faith to a man I did not love? ­Why have you seemed to doubt it?”

“I do not doubt it ­I am very foolish, for I know you are conscientious as the saints in heaven ­and yet, Beulah, I think I could scarce be so tranquil about one I loved.”

The gentle Beulah smiled, but she no longer felt uneasiness.  She understood the impulses and sentiments of her own pure but tranquil nature too well, to distrust herself; and she could easily imagine that Maud would not be as composed under similar circumstances.

“Perhaps it is well, sister of mine,” she answered laughing, though blushing, “that you are so resolved to remain single; for one hardly knows where to find a suitor sufficiently devoted and ethereal for your taste.  No one pleased you last winter, though the least encouragement would have Brought a dozen to your feet; and here there is no one you can possibly have, unless it be dear, good, old Mr. Woods.”

Maud compressed her lips, and really looked stern, so determined was she to command herself; then she answered somewhat in her sister’s vein ­

“It is very true,” she said, “there is no hero for me to accept, unless it be dear Mr. Woods; and he, poor man, has had one wife that cured him of any desire to possess another, they say.”

“Mr. Woods!  I never knew that he was married.  Who can have told you this, Maud?”

“I got it from Robert” ­answered the other, hesitating a little.  “He was talking one day of such things.”

“What things, dear?”

“Why ­of getting married ­I believe it was about marrying relatives ­or connections ­or, some such thing; for Mr. Woods married a cousin-german, it would seem ­and so he told me all about it.  Bob was old enough to know his wife, when she died.  Poor man, she led him a hard life ­he must be far from the Knoll, by this time, Beulah!”

“Mr. Woods! ­I left him with papa, a few minutes since, talking over the ceremony for to-morrow!”

“I meant Bob ­”

Here the sisters caught each other’s eyes, and both blushed, consciousness presenting to them, at the same instant, the images that were uppermost in their respective minds.  But, no more was said.  They continued their employments in silence, and soon each was kneeling in prayer.

The following day, Evert Beekman and Beulah Willoughby were married.  The ceremony took place, immediately after breakfast, in the little chapel; no one being present but the relatives, and Michael O’Hearn, who quieted his conscience for not worshipping with the rest of the people, by acting as their sexton.  The honest county Leitrim man was let into the secret ­as a great secret, however ­at early dawn; and he had the place swept and in order in good season, appearing in his Sunday attire to do honour to the occasion, as he thought became him.

A mother as tender as Mrs. Willoughby, could not resign the first claim on her child, without indulging her tears, Maud wept, too; but it was as much in sympathy for Beulah’s happiness, as from any other cause.  The marriage in other respects, was simple, and without any ostentatious manifestations of feeling.  It was, in truth, one of those rational and wise connections, which promise to wear well, there being a perfect fitness, in station, wealth, connections, years, manners and habits, between the parties.  Violence was done to nothing, in bringing this discreet and well-principled couple together.  Evert was as worthy of Beulah, as she was worthy of him.  There was confidence in the future, on every side; and not a doubt, or a misgiving of any sort, mingled with the regrets, if regrets they could be called, that were, in some measure, inseparable from the solemn ceremony.

The marriage was completed, the affectionate father had held the weeping but smiling bride on his bosom, the tender mother had folded her to her heart, Maud had pressed her in her arms in a fervent embrace, and the chaplain had claimed his kiss, when the well-meaning sexton approached.

“Is it the likes of yees I wish well to!” said Mike ­“Ye may well say that; and to yer husband, and childer, and all that will go before, and all that have come after ye!  I know’d ye, when ye was mighty little, and that was years agone; and niver have I seen a cross look on yer pretthy face.  I’ve app’inted to myself, many’s the time, a consait to tell ye all this, by wor-r-d of mouth; but the likes of yees, and of the Missus, and of Miss Maud there ­och! isn’t she a swate one! and many’s the pity, there’s no sich tall, handsome jontleman to take her, in the bargain, bad luck to him for staying away; and so God bless ye, all, praist in the bargain, though he’s no praist at all; and here’s my good wishes said and done.”